Brian Adam: Our record on Freedom of Information is impressive

The Scottish Government supports freedom of information (FOI) as an essential part of open democratic government and responsive public services.

This government’s FOI performance exceeds that of the previous Scottish administrations. In 2010, information was released in 80 per cent of cases, compared with 69 per cent of cases under the Labour/Lib Dem administration.

We have also moved to publish a raft of information proactively. Information is available on ministerial travel, engagements, gifts and meetings with the media. Information has also been proactively published on topics ranging from the Lockerbie case to the Beauly to Denny power line, and all spending above £25,000.

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The government is also honouring its commitment to improve access to information by developing a single online portal, Direct Scot.

I was pleased to introduce the Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament yesterday. The bill will pave the way for more information to be made public, while significantly strengthening the deterrent against the deliberate destruction or concealment of information.

It is already Scottish Government policy to open most closed files with historical records at 15 years, rather than the traditional 30 – putting us well ahead of the rest of the UK. The bill will allow the Scottish Government to bring all Scottish public authorities in line with this policy.

Scottish freedom of information legislation has justly earned a reputation for being rigorous in setting a high bar before exemptions can be applied, as well as imposing strict response times.

Last month marked the tenth anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act. The act is widely recognised as playing a significant part in making Scotland a more open, transparent and accountable society.

Legislative changes announced yesterday, alongside other work enhancing accessibility, demonstrate the government’s commitment to openness, which we see as an integral part of effective public administration.

• Brian Adam is minister for parliamentary business.